Note: the early access preview for this game can be accessed here.
As someone who grew up in the 90s, this game looks like it could throw me back so hard that I could see the yellowing of my hideously purple Super Nintendo sparkling in front of me. I still never liked how they changed the colors for the west.
For RPGs in the 90s, western releases were slim pickings for the most part until Final Fantasy VII came along and broke through and mainstreamed RPGs for the west. So when an RPG was slated for releases like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, expectations were high. It sure helped that these were two damned good games. Without further ado, let’s get into the interview.
1st Turn: First let me say hello and thank you for doing this interview. The game looks interesting and something a 90s kid like myself might be nostalgic for. I have played the demo somewhat and was wondering was it your goal to make something nostalgic in heyday of the SNES/SFC era or did it just come about?
DrassRay: Thanks for having us. It’s always good to hear when we have the interest of fellow Retro RPG nerds! I had been tinkering with the idea of making games in the retro SNES and even PS1 2.5D style for a while, as they are my favorites and I got a lot of practice over the years by joining various Game Jams. When I came up with the initial proof of concept for the game, I showed Mottzy and it really clicked that we should make this into something more. As the artist, the retro feel was always going to be a focus when it comes to designing this type of game.
Mottzy: DrassRay had been showing me his work off and on, and it always had the retro feel to it. It really came together when DrassRay found an amazing retro tile pack by Seliel the Shaper and showed me a demo. The combination of the tilesets and DrassRay working his magic immediately hit home from the SNES days with games like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and the Final Fantasy series. I had to be part of it, and the retro feel has been our goal from the start.
2nd Turn: Looking at your game studio MottzyStudios, I see that it is just two people! That quite a small studio. What are some benefits and challenges with working with just one other person? Do you have to bring some people in to help with things?
It’s just us two. We will officially be Drattzy Games (or Drattzy Studios) once we’re further along in the project. It’s definitely a challenge to work full-time jobs and keep the momentum of our game going on the side. We both work together extremely well, so the biggest challenge is time. We are doing most of this ourselves with some asset purchases and a little music composition support from Mottzy’s wife, Composey. We plan to consider options for publisher support for things like QA, Marketing, and Localization as we get closer to launch.
3rd Turn: With a release date scheduled temporarily for December 1, 2022, that is quite a way away. Do you foresee any major changes to the game being made or have you made up what you are going to do with the game?
This game has been an evolving process from the start. Since we’re a two-man team, we’ve had to iterate quickly on ideas. The demo establishes some of the game premises, but the end story will be much deeper by the time we’re done. From the start we wanted this to have the epic feel of some of our favorite RPGs, and so we’re constantly fine-tuning the story. At the time of this writing, we don’t expect huge changes to our established plans, though we may shift some of our goals and scope as we see how the game comes together.
4th Turn: I see on the steam page, there is only support for English although that includes audio. Is there plans for additional languages to reach a broader audience? The throwback nature of it being an old-school Japanese RPG, it probably would do well with a Japanese audience.
We definitely plan on more than one language, either at launch or as a fast-follow, and will be targeting Japanese and Asian markets first.
5th Turn: Let’s talk about story a little bit. I see it takes place in a place called Alteria. Can you tell us how that ties into the title “Alterium Shift.” Is there a big event that happens or would you rather not say right now?
The world and lore are based on the idea of alteration (hence the naming) and how the world of Alteria has an underlying essence (or power) that can be used in a number of ways. This concept plays heavily into the plot, and the demo teases the dual nature of the world. We are taking some cues from Chrono Trigger in that the plot unfolds as you play. There is definitely an undertone of a significant event, but we’re saving that for players to discover more when the game is out.
6th Turn: How linear will the game be? Will there be alternate scenarios or possibly endings?
We’ve scoped the game with one primary linear storyline, however, we haven’t ruled out multiple endings. Mainly it’s a matter of timing. We’re heavily inspired by Chrono Trigger, and having multiple endings has always been an aspect we’ve loved about certain games.
7th Turn: I try to always ask this question because so many RPGs nowadays go about in a slapdash way that leaves nobody happy. The topic is about romance. Is there any romance in the story? A lot of people I know including myself personally like a romance if it is done well.
We’ve considered this. It isn’t currently part of the plan for the main plotline. As you inferred, romance can be tricky to make feel natural. With that said, the character development is ever-evolving, and if there’s a natural romance that emerges, we will definitely include it.
8th Turn: Would you say the three characters we are introduced at the beginning of the game: Pyra, Atlas, and Sage are all equal main characters or is there someone that stands out? Will these three characters be the only ones in the game?
All three characters are equally important to the game and story. We wanted to veer away from picking just one as the “main”. Classic RPGs would usually have a young male, and that didn’t feel like the right approach for us. This is why, if you play the intro battle a few times, you may discover that any of the three can drive the story.
We have noticed that Pyra tends to be the character people see as the lead character. It’s been interesting to see people’s reactions to their personalities. However, we plan on each of the three being integral to the overall story, so the initial character “selection” is more flavor to the unique feel of the story.
There may be other characters that join the party, but we’re keeping that under wraps for now.
9th Turn: I see that it is only planned for release on Steam at this time? Is that something that is fluid as in you hope to release to other systems or is it contingent upon sales for Steam first?
Mottzy: We would love to release this on Switch and other platforms as well. Once we get closer to our target dates we’ll be looking for potential partnerships to publish the game on more platforms.
DrassRay: I would be very excited to see the game released to as many platforms as possible, but especially the Switch. I feel our game would be a perfect match for that console.
10th Turn: As a big fan of both RPGs Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI as stated at the bottom of your steam page for this game, which one do you prefer? I know you will be tempted to say both but let’s say hypothetically with a gun to your head, you HAD to choose one?
Mottzy: No contest, it’s Chrono Trigger hands-down for me. This has been the most impactful RPG for me, and the only one I’ve regularly gone back to in my adult life.
DrassRay: I would have to say that Chrono Trigger is definitely the one that stands out to me as well. Final Fantasy, as a series, will always remain close to my heart though.
Extra Turn: I want to say thank you again for doing this interview so let me end with a question to get a current feel on what games have garnered your interest. What games are you playing or what games you are looking forward to?
Mottzy: With a busy lifestyle I’m not as up to speed on upcoming games. I do try to play SNES classics when I find the time, along with modern retro games. Recently I reopened Evoland 1 & 2 as I really enjoy the breadth of retro games they captured.
DrassRay: I was lucky enough to get a PS5 recently and have been playing through some games I missed from the last generation, such as Persona 5. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Final Fantasy XVI since it feels like the story will have a deeper focus this go around. One can hope.